For the third time in five weeks, a 16-year-old boy has died after being injured while working at an industrial site, while lawmakers in several states are working to relax child labor laws that protect minors from hazardous work.
The latest death of a teenager occurred at the Mar Jac Poultry Plant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on Friday night, according to authorities. It is the third death of a worker at the plant since December 2020.
Duvan Tomas Perez, the NBC News reported He moved to the United States from Guatemala six years ago and was part of a cleaning crew cleaning machinery when he became trapped in equipment on a conveyor belt. The police and the poultry company said he died at the scene of the accident.
The company said it appeared the child “should not have been hired” and that his age and identity had been misrepresented in his hiring records with an outside staffing agency.
“We are devastated at the loss of life and deeply regret that an underage person was hired without our knowledge. “The company conducts a thorough review with recruiting firms to ensure this type of mistake never happens again,” the company said in a statement to HuffPost on Thursday.
His death follows the deaths of two other teenagers in Wisconsin and Missouri.
Michael Schuls, 16, died June 29 from injuries sustained at Florence Hardwoods logging company in Florence, Wisconsin. Michael was attempting to unblock a log stacking machine when he was pinned under machinery on a conveyor belt, causing traumatic asphyxiation, according to coroners. The Associated Press reported.
Will Hampton, 16, died June 8 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri after injuring himself while working at the Lee’s Summit Resource Recovery Park landfill. The high school student was pinned between a semi truck and its trailer, resulting in his death, police said in a statement.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating all three deaths, a spokesman for the Department of Labor confirmed to HuffPost.
OSHA also made a referral to the Department of Labor’s Wages and Hours Division in the Wisconsin case for possible child labor violations related to hazardous occupations and made a separate referral in the Missouri case to determine whether the child was lawfully employed.
Federal labor laws permit the employment of children as young as 16 in all occupations, provided the jobs are not classified as hazardous by the Department of Labor. The Department of Labor There is a list on the website of such dangerous jobs and stipulates that “most jobs” in meat and poultry plants – including cleaning equipment – are prohibited.
Minors are too to be forbidden Employment “inside and outside factories that use machinery to process wood products”, with few exceptions, even when an adult relative is supervising the child.
Wisconsin teenager’s father also worked at the sawmill and was on site that day, local station WBAY reportedalthough the child was alone in the building at the time of the incident and was not found until 17 minutes later, The AP reported.
The deaths come as lawmakers in several states propose relaxing child labor protections in a bid to fill the workforce with low-paid workers amid ongoing labor shortages. The covid-19 pandemic, affordable child carean increase in remote work and retired workers are given as reasons for the nationwide shortage.
In Wisconsin, where one of the three children died, it is lawmakers advocates for the reduction of age serving alcohol in bars and restaurants to 14. It would be a national first if approved, the government said National Health Institute.
Other proposed legislation in Minnesota proposes allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to work on or near construction sites.
In Iowa, the state Senate passed a bill in April that would allow children to work longer days and longer hours, but in contradiction to current restrictions that federal law sets, such as working hours The Iowa State Daily reported.
The Biden government already in April urged US meat companies to ensure they do not unknowingly or knowingly hire children illegally. This followed the revelations that more than 100 children worked for a company that cleans slaughterhouses. The children’s tasks also included handling dangerous equipment such as razor-sharp bone saws.
An estimate Every year in the United States, 160,000 children are injured at work. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 54,800 of these injuries require emergency department treatment.
The number of minors employed in violation of child labor laws has increased by 37% in the last year, according to a study March report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington. The report identified ten states that have introduced or passed legislation that would weaken child labor standards in the past two years.